Spoiler alert for Game of Thrones Season 8, episode 5.
If Game of Thrones is known for one thing, it is subverting our expectations to the point that we begin to question the foundation of the supposedly established narrative.
In episode 5 of season 8, we got several moments we had been anticipating for years now. And while it should have made us celebrate, some, in fact, did quite the opposite and gave us mixed feelings about it all.
1. We were anticipating the enjoyment we would feel after Cersei’s death. But when it happened, it was actually somewhat painful and we ended up empathising with her.
From the very beginning, the show made no bones about Cersei being one of the greyest characters in Westeros. An extreme narcissist, Cersei entertained even the worst of her impulses and took self-preservation to a whole other level.
She destroyed lives, annihilated entire dynasties, and tortured people in unthinkable ways. And with each of her cruel infractions, we all hoped for the bloodiest end for her.
Cersei finally met her end this episode. However, we can’t help but think about how wrong it felt towards the end. She may have been the worst throughout, but in her final moments she was human. Stripped off of her insolent facade, she was most vulnerable and afraid. She died at a moment when she was terrified of dying and doing what she did all her life — fear for her child.
While we were waiting with bated breath for this moment, when it came we did not expect to feel this way. We were supposed celebrate her demise, but a part of us genuinely felt terrible about it. Like it always does, Game of Thrones made the death of its most deadly villain something we would have mixed feelings about and even to some extent mourn.
2. We were waiting for Cleganebowl and the poetic end of The Mountain. But we were heartbroken at The Hound being taken out in the battle with him.
One of the most anticipated fan theories was the battle of the Clegane brothers — The Hound, Ser Sandor Clegane and The Mountain, Ser Gregor Clegane. Tortured by his brother his entire childhood The Hound carried literal and physical scars with him his whole life. The Hound’s mission was to seek revenge and give The Mountain what he deserved.
In the final act of episode 5, we did get the epic standoff that was speculated. But amidst the spectacular fight, we realised, as did The Hound, that his brother was pretty much un-killable by conventional methods. It seems like a one-sided fight until Sandor realises that the only way his brother can die is the thing he fears the most — fire.
While he does take The Mountain with him into a fiery death, the biggest tragedy was The Hound’s own demise. Given, it was heroic to die by the things that he feared the most — his brother and fire. But as much as we celebrated The Mountain’s ceremonious demise, we couldn’t help but mourn the death of one of the most beloved men in the seven kingdoms.
3. Daenerys’ conquest of King’s Landing was supposed to be her glorious victory. Instead, it was a grave loss for the entire kingdom.
We’ve seen Daenerys evolve from the timid Dany to the fierce Khaleesi and we waited nine long years for her to take King’s Landing. Her gradual evolution from refugee to reformer and eventually conquerer was glorious, to say the least. And we rooted for her all along to eventually rule over Westeros.
When she did take the capital, however, it was through grave violence and full-blown genocide. We were anticipating celebration at her achieving what she’s always been yearning for. But it was nothing short of the tragic siege of the city which, in fact, was better off without her conquering it.
4. Daenerys had our blessing for exacting her revenge over Missandei’s execution. But the annihilation it caused shocked us beyond measure.
When Missandei meets her tragic end, her last words were a prophetic declaration of war. We were as scarred by her death as she was and we were all for her wreaking havoc on King’s Landing as revenge.
When it played out, however, it was nothing short of a war crime deeming her full mad queen. Despite the city’s surrender, Dany went ahead and burnt infrastructure, unarmed soldiers, and even civilians — men, women, and children alike.
We wanted her to exact her revenge for her closest ally, Missandei. But when she finally did, it was nothing short of terrorism. And it made us feel gutted about how it completely thwarted every sliver of hope we had for her as a ruler.
5. Brienne and Jaime’s love story was supposed to be the satisfying conclusion to his steep character arc. The way it abruptly ended was a disservice to both characters and Jaime’s humanity.
Jaime and Brienne was the couple we all secretly rooted for. They inspired each other to be the best version of themselves and were a poetic overturn of the knight in shining armour trope.
Just as we thought this beloved duo got their happy ending, this blissful rug was violently pulled from under our feet when Jaime demolished it all for Cersei.
We felt gutted at how it all ended for Jaime in episode 5. But it was far worse knowing that he could’ve had a perfectly normal life with Brienne, had he just stayed true to his newfound humanity.
6. We were rooting for Jon to find true love. But we were heartbroken at how love in Jon’s world is doomed beyond measure.
Ever since Jon lost his first love, Ygritte he was pushed over the edge as the brooding man of few words. As a beloved character, and one who’s gone through so much including literal death, we were rooting for him to find happiness in the form of true love.
When his relationship with Daenerys blossomed, a part of us rooted for them despite their shared lineage. But Dany’s gradual descent into madness and Jon’s unwavering loyalty despite it all made us all iffy about it all.
Jon was the only one who could’ve kept a check on her worst impulses and yet in this episode, it was clear that it is close to impossible to do so. While their relationship was doomed, to begin with, it’s even worse knowing that Jon’s ending is not one which will contain a functional romantic relationship.
These moments were signature GoT. You think you’ll feel great when they happen, but when they do, not so much.